Wholesome Child : Wholesome Child full
37 36 step 1: swap to Whole grains arbohydrates have been getting a bad rap, however the fact is that for most children, carbs provide the best source of fuel for their growing muscles and active brains. Children can get carbohydrates from starchy vegetables and fruit, but a large portion of their intake tends to come from grains. That’s why choosing the best quality grains is the first step towards improving the quality of your child’s diet. Many of the children I see in my practice won’t eat anything other than processed grains like white bread, white rice or pasta and their parents’ attempts to offer alternatives are met with tight- lipped rejection. Making gradual changes within the framework of each child’s favourite foods can lead to tremendous progress. One young child I worked with literally lived on white rice before his family came to see me. Initially we tried mixing the white rice with basmati rice and, once we saw that he didn’t resist that change, we slowly started adding brown rice to the mix. Now, whenever his family eat rice, they stick to brown rice. Often parents are surprised at how easy it is when they slowly swap white rice for brown or white flour for a wholegrain version in recipes. Repetition is the secret to success. Start by swapping processed grains for different whole grains – one meal (or snack or even dessert) at a time. It’s the single most important change that I encourage parents to make to their child’s diet. So What’s the problem with processed grains? Processed or refined grains like white rice or white flour are simple or ’empty’ carbohydrates. All of the fibre, vitamins and minerals your growing child needs have been stripped during processing. Unlike all whole grains, which contain three parts: the bran (the outer layer), endosperm (the middle layer), and germ (the inner layer), refined grains are left with only the endosperm, the least nutritious part composed of starchy carbohydrates and low in nutrients. So instead of retaining all their natural goodness and satiating your child, they very quickly convert to sugar in the bloodstream. A rapid spike in blood sugar may give your child an instant energy hit, but very soon afterwards he will feel tired and struggle to concentrate. Introducing complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, a change that can be as easy as swapping white bread for sourdough in your child’s lunch box, won’t create that insulin wobble. This one change alone also has the power to set the foundations for healthy eating, may even help to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower heart disease risk later on in life. Swapping to whole grains will: ✓ help stabilise blood sugar levels ✓ improve concentration ✓ steady mood swings ✓ reduce sugar cravings Processed Grains vs Whole Grains: What’s the difference? While processed grains are stripped of the most important nutrients, whole grains (grains that are kept intact) contain: • original phytonutrients and micronutrients. • several B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate) to unlock the energy found in carbohydrates. • minerals (iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese and selenium). • dietary fibre essential for stabilising blood sugar and eliminating constipation. What’s the difference between whole wheat and whole grain? If wheat is left unprocessed it qualifies as a whole grain. How can you tell? When you read a nutrition label you want to see the word ’whole’ before ’wheat’ so it should read whole wheat (and not just wheat). But whole wheat is only one kind of whole grain. Read on to learn about the many other varieties to choose from. 37 How many serves of whole grains should my child be eating? The recommended daily amount of whole grains has changed. Over the last two decades, grains resided in the ’Eat Most’ layer on Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Eating Pyramid and were recommended as the largest part of our diets. The new six- layer pyramid places more emphasis on vegetables, legumes and fruit. From toddler age until age 9 (boys) or age 12 (girls), it is suggested children eat no more than 4 serves of whole grains per day. To fulfill your child’s carbohydrate needs, starchy vegetables should make up some of the recommended serves. Consider this... The constant rise and fall of blood sugar levels that happens when we feed our children processed grains, can predispose them to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity. In the US, type 2 diabetes, has already overtaken type 1 diabetes among children. One of the main culprits is the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates.